Bracewell & Giuliani

Coal Lobbyist Jeff Holmstead Confronted for Blocking Global Warming Solutions (VIDEO)

  • Posted on: 18 June 2014
  • By: Connor Gibson

Bracewell & Giuliani's Jeff Holmstead, hailing the escape cab that never showed up.

Bracewell & Giuliani Coal Lobbyist Jeff Holmstead vs. The Climate

If you're a coal lobbyist like Jeff Holmstead, getting stuck in an elevator with Greenpeace activists is an inconvenient occupational hazard, especially if you then can't find a cab and cars are honking at your during an uncomfortable conversation about your work to attack pollution laws. See this K Street confrontation for yourself.

If you've followed the news around EPA's proposed Clean Power Rule, which aims to reduce the U.S. power sector's large contributions to global warming, you've probably seen Jeffrey Holmstead in the news. Usually, Holmstead is presented as a "partner" at Bracewell & Giuliani, and as a former EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation under George W. Bush.

This descriptor fails to present Holmstead's current and past work as a registered lobbyist for coal companies, and leaves out the destructive decisions that Holmstead made in his stint at EPA, which directly contributed to the premature death of tens of thousands of people in this country. It leaves out the $17.5 million that coal industry clients have paid Bracewell & Giuliani for its lobbying services, where Mr. Holmstead is a prized hired gun against the EPA.

This is why I began our tense conversation with a simple question: why doesn't Jeff Holmstead use his skills, qualifications and experience to find real solutions to global warming?

Every time Mr. Holmstead has appeared in the news to discuss the EPA's proposed Clean Power Rule to reduce U.S. carbon emissions, he doesn't have much good to say. "As someone who believes in the rule of law, I think this clearly goes beyond what EPA is allowed to do under the Clean Air Act,” Holmstead said at an event yesterday at the Bipartisan Policy Center, where I asked if his naysaying is simply to help Arch coal sell coal. Notice that Holmstead doesn't respond:  see minute 7:30 in bottom video posted by BPC.

Mr. Holmstead's criticisms aren't surprising for a coal lobbyist, but Holmstead rarely acknowledges his coal clients and instead uses his former EPA credentials and his legal expertise to help steer Washington DC politicians, lawyers and journalists toward the coal industry's interpretations of proposed environmental regulations.

Holmstead likes to conflate rising electricity rates with the average consumer's utility bill, ignoring the proposed rule's well-known intent to reduce consumer bills through energy efficiency targets. This deceptive talking point was called out by Susan Tierney of the Analysis Group at yesterday's event at the Bipartisan Policy Center. Holmstead knows this isn't honest--he was previously called out by NRDC's Frances Beineke during a segment on The Diane Rehm Show.

He talks about how reducing U.S. emissions won't make a dent in reducing global emissions, thanks to rising coal use in coutries like China and India, as if the U.S. first real national attempt to reduce emissions won't give us legitimacy in global climate negotiations. When I used this as an example of one of Mr. Holmstead's obstruction tactics.

With the science understood, with the financial stakes so high and with shocking estimates of the current human death toll from global warming, why does Jeffrey Holmstead make a career working for an industry that is killing people?

I don't have an answer, but I have sought one. For "someone who believes in the rule of law," Mr. Holmstead has found a lot of ways to protect coal company executives at the expense of other people, within the boundaries of law or outside of the boundaries of enforcement. Avoiding personal responsibility is nothing new for Mr. Holmstead. In 2011, I confronted him for his decisions to delaying mercury regulations at U.S. power plants for eight full years, a decision he made as head of the George W. Bush EPA's air and radiation office. That decision allowed tens of thousands of people to prematurely die from mercury's toxic effects, according to EPA estimates of the rule's health benefits.

After I was booted out, Gabe Elsner of the Energy and Policy Institute asked Mr. Holmstead about his role in delaying mercury regulations. The interaction says a lot about Holmstead's aversion to recognizing the indirect role he has played in hurting people:

For someone whose decisions have had a terrible impact on the American public, Jeff Holmstead has faced little accountability for his sooty legacy. PolluterWatch will continue to monitor and expose the coal industry's work to undermine public health and public policies designed to solve problems their business creates.

SourceWatch: Jeffrey R. Holmstead

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Lobbyists for the "Electric Reliability Coordinating Council" attack clean air rules on behalf of Arch Coal

  • Posted on: 24 May 2012
  • By: joesmyth

The Environmental Protection Agency is holding a public hearing today in Washington DC on the first-ever rules to limit carbon pollution from new power plants. It's a popular rule, and EPA has already heard a lot about it: over a million comments supporting the rule were delivered to EPA last week.

But this is DC, so not everyone is thrilled. Scott Segal, a lobbyist at Bracewell & Giuliani, will be testifying on behalf of coal interests at the EPA hearing. When lobbying against clean air rules like the carbon pollution standard or mercury air toxics standard, Segal likes to use the title of director of the "Electric Reliability Coordinating Council" (ERCC); I suppose it sounds better than coal lobbyist. But what exactly is the ERCC? When he wrote a letter requesting a meeting about the carbon pollution rule with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Segal claimed that "ERCC is a group of power-generating companies." But OMB meeting records reveal that the only lobbyist that joined ERCC for that meeting was Arch Coal's Vice President of Government Affairs, Tom Altmeyer.

Arch Coal, of course, is not a power-generating company, but rather the second largest coal mining company in the US, and one increasingly focused on exporting US coal to foreign markets. Burning coal is a major source of carbon pollution, so it's no surprise that Arch is lobbying against rules that will help move us away from their dangerous product. But what about utility companies like Duke Energy, a known member company of ERCC? Does it secretly support ERCC's misleading attacks on clean air rules that will protect their ratepayers from mercury and carbon pollution, while encouraging investment in cleaner sources of electricity?

This is not the first time, after all, that ERCC's lobbying appears out of step with its member companies' public positions. Last year Greenpeace sent Duke CEO Jim Rogers a letter asking if Duke was a member of ERCC, and whether the company supported the ERCC's efforts to delay and weaken the mercury rule. In response, a spokesman for the company told the Charlotte Business Journal that Duke is a member of ERCC, “But, as with many organizations we are affiliated with, we don’t agree with them on every issue.”

Segal has avoided revealing the full list of ERCC member companies. When challenged in a debate by John Walke of NRDC to disclose ERCC's full list of member companies, Segal declined after naming just four companies: Southern Company, Duke Energy, Progress Energy, and EFH (Energy Future Holdings, which owns Luminant) - but made no mention of Arch Coal. Indeed, Segal and other lobbyists at Bracewell & Giuliani like Jeff Holmstead have used ERCC for more than a decade to obscure which coal mining companies and utilities are behind their efforts to weaken and delay clean air rules.

A New York Times article about the creation of ERCC in 2001 describes it as "a consortium of power companies that is so new that its spokesman could not name the 8 to 10 companies he said have joined so far." Right.. well, now that it has been over a decade, we'll see if Segal is able to recall - and willing to reveal - which companies are behind his efforts to weaken and delay clean air protections that will save thousands of American lives. In the meantime, public officials and reporters would be wise to question whose interests Scott Segal and Jeff Holmstead represent.

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Live from the Sewer: Maisano Smells the Roses

  • Posted on: 21 January 2010
  • By: admin

If you don’t have the pleasure of reading the periodical missives from Bracewell & Giuliani polluter hack Frank Maisano, you are really missing something. This week’s installment contained the usual spin and terrible jokes but also a special defense of his friend and colleague Jeffrey Holmstead. What for, you ask? Well if you listen to Maisano explain it, Holmstead was simply offering “legislative support activities,” including “writing an amendment to prevent funding,” which he says, is “not rocket science.”

Maisano's full explanation follows:

As well, for those of you still paying attention to the legislative support activities of my friend Jeff Holmstead, let me just suggest that we put this to rest. For one, writing an amendment to prevent funding is not rocket science and it has been done a million times. Secondly, understanding the implications on the CAA of such a move is something you probably ought to ask – oh, I don't know – clean air act experts. And finally, does anybody really believe the enviro community wasn't consulted by Sens. Kerry and Boxer as they wrote their 900-plus page LEGISLATION. As for the calls for ethics investigations and donation returns, it is just a political "talking point" for enviros attempting to rally against Murkowski's reasonably popular idea to limit the regulation of CO2 by EPA. By the way as my colleague Scott Segal points out below, enviros donate 94% to Democrats, while utilities are pretty much split (51R-49 D).

A few interesting things from Maisano's take on this issue:

  • Is Maisano admitting what Murkowski, Holmstead and Martella have repeatedly denied, that the lobbyists wrote the legislation themselves, as has been done "a million times?" And if it isn't rocket science, why wasn't Murkowski capable of doing it herself? Do Alaskans even need a Senator if any coal lobbyist off the street can walk in and write legislation?
  • Calling Holmstead and Martella "Clean Air Act experts" is like praising demolition men for their understanding of building architecture. Sure they understand the Clean Air Act, but only because they have spent years helping Bush and now coal and oil tycoons undermine and circumvent that law. The larger question of course is did Murkowski ask them, or did they ask her to submit the legislation on behalf of her largest contributors?
  • Finally, equating Murkowski, Holmstead and Martella's actions with those of the environmental community or any other ethical lobbyists is disingenuous to say the least. Advising a member of Congress of your constituency's opinion on a particular piece of legislation is an act far apart from writing the legislation yourself, hosting conference calls at a Senator's invitation to solicit support for the legislation and directing your clients to donate to that Senator's campaign as the legislation is being finalized. Frank Maisano makes an admirable attempt to make up for his friends' actions on the Murkowski amendment but his spin simply falls short.

The truth in Maisano's missive is that this activity is very likely commonplace. It is not difficult to believe that this is the first time that Holmstead and Martella have crafted legislation on behalf of a polluting client to be introduced by a cooperative member of Congress. Such is life in the sewer of American politics that dirty industry lobbyists can push legislation through a friendly Senator by simply contributing to her campaign. Unfortunately for Maisano, he's been swimming in that sewer for so long he doesn't seem to know how badly it stinks.

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